UP's Mikee Reyes is consoled by his teammates after missing two crucial free throws in the end game against Ateneo. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines -- University of the Philippines (UP) guard Mikee Reyes immediately took responsibility for the Fighting Maroons' heartbreaking 69-70 loss at the hands of Ateneo on Wednesday, tweeting "Blame me" just moments after the game.
Reyes had a chance to give UP its first win over Ateneo in five years when he fished for a foul against Chris Newsome with just 0.8 remaining, but bricked both free throws to allow Ateneo to escape.
"It's on me, no one else," said Reyes, sharing that the first thing he did when he entered the dugout was to send the tweet.
It was a heartbreaking moment for Reyes, who put UP in a position to steal the win after he hit a booming triple with less than two minutes to go. He also scored 15 of his 19 points in the final quarter after struggling in the first half.
UP head coach Rey Madrid has said he should not be blamed for their defeat.
"I cannot put the burden on Mikee for missing those shots," said Madrid. "He was the one who brought us here, and could be by sheer exhaustion na rin. There is no question about his toughness and willingness to win."
"It's just he did so much for the last six to seven minutes. Walang burden doon sa kanya coming from me," the coach added.
This is of no consolation for Reyes, however.
"You can say everything about how I exploded in the fourth, na ako ang nagdala, that without me, we wouldn't be in that position. But at the end of the day, it's two free throws," he said.
"Honestly, I'm not gonna take credit for bringing them, for carrying them to that position where we can win. For me, I lost the game. It's my fault," he said. "Masakit siya, but I hope I can learn from this moving forward."
Reyes admitted that the long break between the first and the second free throws threw him off a bit. The referees had to check the correct time left on the game-clock, leaving Reyes at the line for quite a while.
"Honestly, I thought I had three free throws," Reyes said. "And when I missed the first one, everyone was saying na parang minadali ko daw. But then I was like, if I take too long before I shoot, baka mas marami ako isipin. And that's how I shoot free throws talaga."
"When I missed it, I was like, okay, just one of two, one of two. Tapos ang tagal. Nakatayo lang ako sa free throw line, and the crowd was getting into it. And then the referee whistled, and he pointed one finger. Sabi ko, I looked at the ref, I thought I had two. Pero isa na lang daw," he added.
"It was a big choking experience for me," he said. "I'm not gonna deny that. It was a choke."